Hey guys! Check out my newest interview with Etsy seller and artist extraordinaire, Hilary of "Bunny With A Toolbelt"! And if you want to know what to get me for my bday--check out her Etsy store! :)
1. Hello and thank you for taking the time for this interview! I absolutely adore your shop and the name really fits your items well. Why don't you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself.
I live with my partner and our doggie named Weegee. The house is 100 years old this year and always seems to need way too much work, but I love owning my own property because I can do what I want with it. My life is really centered around my home, which keeps me balanced. My studio is a separate building in the back yard. My partner is also in the creative fields--he is an interactive touchscreen designer. You can see some of his amazing work at www.subcycle.org . We are both fairly obsessed and put in long days working on our various projects, but when we finally take a break, we love to explore museums or watch movies.
2. I love the detail in your pieces! What made you choose to work with wood over other mediums?
The first medium I really dove into in college was clay--I spent two intensive years at the University of Oregon learning everything I could about firing processes and playing with all kinds of clay bodies until I fell in love with nerikome, an ancient Japanese technique of layering colored porcelains. I started my first business making beads using that process, and abandoned my degree for a while in favor of learning how to make a living making art.
When I finally decided to return to school, I found the Oregon College of Art and Craft, where I could take classes in everything from furniture design to jewelry to Photoshop to writing to printmaking to book arts....I ate it all up and it was AWESOME. I ended up getting my actual degree in the metals department because I thought the curriculum would give me the best skill set, but my thesis project was actually a large installation of over 500 one of a kind wood sculptures. (you can see it here: http://hilarypfeifer.com/blog/
?p=334 ) I really feel that all of these art and craft experiences feed into the way I work and think with wood. My studio is filled with a ton of wood scraps and little knobs and turned parts I got at thrift stores. The combination of found objects with parts I completely create gives me a huge vocabulary with infinite possibilities.
3. You have a large selection of critters in your work. Do you consider yourself an activist? Or just a lover of fuzzy creatures?
If I'm an activist, I guess I'd say that it's my mission to make people smile. Animals are a natural at that! When I was a girl, I loved Hello Kitty and as an adult, I adore all of that Japanese cute culture stuff like Afro Ken and FriendsWithYou.
4. What is your favorite scent?
Freshly cut grass.
5. How soon after you started creating did you decide to turn your craft into a business?
My parents ran a craft gallery for most of my childhood, so I was always around great role models who inspired me to find my own way pretty early. I grew up with an entrepreneurial bent, selling things I made from a very early age to friends and family here and there.
As soon as I was old enough that I moved out of the house and was paying my own bills, I think I only held a normal job for one or two years before I found a way to make a living from my artwork. I have been a self-employed artist for over 20 years, and it's always been a combination of income from a small art business like Bunny with a Toolbelt supplementing income from my one of a kind work like public and private commissions.
6. You started your business in 1989, back before the big internet explosion. What kind of changes, good or bad, have you seen with the addition of online selling?
It's all good! I have always embraced the do-it-yourself spirit in my business philosophy and, fortunately, learned early on how computers would help me be a better business person, I have been using computers to design my tags and other promotional materials since the very early days, so as new technologies emerged, I learned them because it always seemed like the best way to get my work out there for little expense. I spent a lot of my teenage years doing my own graphic layout using scratch-off type, so you can bet I jumped at the chance to have my own computer as soon as I could afford it. Photoshop made my life so much better. I am so grateful for the newer networks out there that allow me to promote my work like Etsy and Facebook and meet new people. It felt like it took forever for people to feel comfortable spending money on the internet, but I'm so glad to be able to find a global market now.
7. What else do you like to do when you're not creating beautiful things?!
I live in a part of Portland called the Alberta Arts District and spend a lot of my spare time volunteering for a non profit organization called Art on Alberta. We put on art and educational activities for the community here and I love working with our talented team to make these events happen. Recently, I bought a little trailer that was converted into a small gallery, and I'm excited to make some great little mobile shows happen in that space in the near future.
8. What has been your favorite creation thus far (big or small)?
My last big personal project was an installation called Natural Selection--it was a greenhouse filled with fantastical plants. You can see it here: http://hilarypfeifer.
But that will likely be replaced this fall with my next big project which is in the early stages right now. It's going to be a wall installation inspired by the wallpaper designs of William Morris.
9. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I love to travel, but can't imagine living anywhere outside of my current home, Portland. I love this city so much because it's clean, it's filled with creative people, I can walk or ride a bike or drive anywhere with ease, buy and eat amazing food, get to the beach or the mountains in a few hours.
10. How much time do you spend on a particular item? Let's take your sparkly unicorn as an example:
This is a hard question to answer because I rarely work on one thing from start to finish. Rather I typically work on a whole bunch of things at once, working in large batches. It's easier for me to schedule my work so that I can make anywhere from 10-30 figures at the same time. I create the forms all at once, and then the batch moves over to the main painting station where I paint the overall color, and then there's a secondary painting stage where details like eye color or grass patterns happen. From there some pieces go back to the workbench to have hair or veils and flowers glued in, or maybe glitter or flocking. I would say that it takes me around two weeks to do a typical batch, but my projects vary all the time so I just focus on doing the best quality work I can and remembering how fortunate I am to be able to spend my days doing what I love.